As promised, the continued saga of our trip to JP and the Scottish delights we encountered there!
After thoroughly enjoying all of the appetizers, it was time to dig into our entrees. For the most part we tried for “traditional” fare, though we made an exception for duck. It is imperative, if you’re dining with me, that you always make exceptions for the duck.
For my own part, however, I went with the sassitch and mash.
The sassitch refers to a lovely house-made sausage, in this case pork combined with apples and sage (you can see a bit of apple poking out in the photo!), always a fantastic group of flavors. Mash can mean any of a number of mashed vegetables, often turnip or potato, but in this case roasted sweet potato, to play nicely with the fall flavors of the sausage. Finally the kale on the side added a bit of much-needed bitterness to balance all of the sweetness, and the cider-jus, with bacon and duck stock, was to die for. The leftovers made a killer hash the next day, too!
Hard to see, alas (it was VERY dark!) but this is the fish supper – beer-battered haddock, thick chips, and mushy peas. Fish and chips, but very, very good ones, some of the most tender fish I’ve had outside of home in my life, and the batter was thick and delicious. I’d never had mushy peas before – essentially mashed fresh peas with mint. Very green-tasting, and I liked them, but they were served cold and I think I prefer my veggies of this type hot, as a general rule. Others at the table had no such qualms, however, and they did not go to waste!
Our duck exception, and it was exceptional! The duck was perfection, crispy outside, still rosy inside, and served with mustard greens, red curry, and some kaffir lime yogurt that makes me want to go back and ask for the recipe.
Now I know that at this point you might be thinking, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HAGGIS?” Fear not, my lovelies, for it was ordered and it was eaten. I didn’t get it as my personal entree because two other folks at the table were getting it and I wanted to make sure we had our culinary bases covered (though I needn’t have worried, two other folks ordered the sassitch!).
Here she is:
A few words about the Haven’s haggis, before I give my thoughts. First, rather than a sheep’s stomach, they use a beef sausage casing. Secondly, they forgo the pesky, only-recently-legal lungs in the filling,though the heart and kidneys are still present. Finally, they serve it with a Drambuie butter, which maybe the tastiest damned thing that’s happened to butter in many a year. I think I may need to make some of my own to keep around the house and spread on everything.
And so, my thoughts – fantastic. The filling ends up being soft and rich, with the strong flavor of the heart coming through. Served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes and rutabaga, this was a perfect winter food.
All of this was washed down with a Kelpie Seaweed Ale, a Scottish chocolate ale brewed with bladderwrack seaweed. Think chocolate with a bit of brininess. Tasty, and low-alcohol enough to go well with dinner – plus I really loved the label!
The great thing about dinner with 9 people is that you almost always have room for dessert, because you’re sharing nearly everything and eating tiny, tapas-like amounts of it all. Even better, if you’re lucky, with 9 people it is totally reasonable to order EVERY DESSERT ON THE MENU and eat the round-robin style. If you have never had such an experience I highly recommend grabbing 8 other people and finding a spot that carries 4-5 dessert options. You will not regret this.
A deep-fried Mars Bar! Way better than any of us had expected it to be, mostly because it was lightly sprinkled with sea salt, which the ladies at the table figured would make nearly any dessert appealing to us, but also because it was all melty and warm inside, and the coating was crisper and tastier than I, for one, was expecting.
A tart of lemon curd, scented with rosemary smoke. This was the most flamboyant dish, coming as it did with elements that were on fire. You can pretty much always impress with open flame tableside. The taste was also fantastic, however, like a lemon square that had upgraded from the church bake sale and learned to be fancy.
This is cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert similar to a parfait – layers of fruit, whipped cream, and whiskey are topped with toasted oatmeal. The fruit in ours was, as is seasonally appropriate, cranberries. Valerie, upon enjoying her first spoonful of cranchan, exclaimed “I want to write poetry to this!”
However, the cranachan was soon upstaged by our last dessert, another traditional beauty. Alas, due to the dark, my photo hardly does her justice:
That is sticky toffee pudding, and that is pure joy on a plate. Imagine a rich, moist sponge cake enrobed in the thickest, darkest toffee sauce possible. The taste is burnt sugar molasses goodness. If you put sea salt on top of it might possibly die right at the table. Upon biting into this, Valerie was moved to say, “If I wanted to write poetry to that, this I want to eat in the back seat of my car!” Her sister, Elise, then summed it up thus: “[Cranachan] is who you take on a nice date, to dinner. Sticky toffee pudding is who you call up after when you didn’t get any.”
Here at Adventures in Food we like to keep it classy.
The waitress, who really was an absolute delight, did us one last favor and took a picture of the whole group:
It is painfully obvious who did and did not skip the hat portion of our day, but we love you guys anyway!
A big thank you to the delightful staff of The Haven, who put up with a rotating number of people, our ridiculously early selves, and a very large party with grace and charm. I can’t wait to go back and try their brunch!